In Vietnam, over half of all under-5 child deaths take place in the first month of life resulting in nearly 18,000 deaths every year. An additional 860 women die from complications in pregnancy and childbirth and another 16,000 babies are stillborn. In order to improve maternal and newborn care in Vietnam, there is an urgent need to target rural districts where resources are scarcest and coverage of lifesaving interventions are lowest.1
In the rural district of Tram Tau, poor roads, local customs, and language barriers have prevented access to and knowledge of good health practices. One neonatal nurse, Nguyen Thi Minh Hong, has worked tirelessly for the past 34 years in the region to overcome these challenges and improve care for women and babies.
Serving a primarily ethnic minority population, she travels nearly two hours to different clinics each day providing checkups to mothers and newborns, assisting with deliveries, and conducting family planning consultations. She has helped drive a gradual change in cultural beliefs discouraging expecting mothers from visiting health clinics. She also works in the local Hmong language which has led to increased trust in the nurses and doctors from the health clinics and with patients. As a result, pregnant women are increasingly seeking antenatal care at clinics and a more births are being attended by skilled health workers.
“It’s true that the work is hard and travel is difficult. But I love this job. When a delivery is done I feel so happy to welcome a new baby. And if the baby is not well, we take care of them and they get healthy after our care and I feel so honored about that.”
Mrs. Hong would like to get more training in neonatal nursing and to “…continue to step up the communications activities and increase people’s understanding about the care that we can provide to them” in Tram Tau. Mrs. Hong hopes her efforts will continue to encourage the local population to come to the clinics where she and her colleagues can provide better care.
Nguyen Thi Minh Hong is a winner of the International Neonatal Nursing Excellence Award 2016.
“Countdown to 2015: The 2015 Report, Viet Nam.” http://www.countdown2015mnch.org/documents/2015Report/Viet_Nam_2015.pdf